Blogging GALA :: Day Zero
Your EDGE correspondent and humble columnist sings Tenor 2 with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. He’s also on the chorus’ Board of Directors. He’ll claim that he’s attending GALA in Denver this year because he views it as his responsibility to the BGMC and to gay choruses in general, but given his track record overall with the board, we all know he’s there for the pure pleasure of the event.
After all, when you bring 6,000 gay and lesbian delegates into a Colorado city in the high desert for a choral music festival, you’re talking some good times, some color, some drama, some merchandising... and a whole lotta music. Tune in here for up-to-the (happy) hour coverage of the songs, the shenanigans, the laughter and the tears of GALA 2012...
The Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses was founded 30 years ago, in 1982. The first GALA festival took place in San Francisco that same year. Since then, there have been eight subsequent festivals, in places as diverse as New York City, Seattle, and Montreal. GALA 2012 is the tenth festival.
I arrived a full day early, on Friday, and the first person I ran into was Pete, a fellow chorine. I hadn’t yet cleared the airport.
Pete was in high spirits. His first GALA festival had been 20 years earlier, in 1992--also here in Denver. "This is your first GALA?" Pete asked me. "Oh, my god. You are about to be amazed."
What I was about to be was shut up in the hotel room I was set to share with J.D. Fugate, a friend from the Seattle Men’s Chorus. J.D. was not slated to arrive until late in the evening; meantime, I unpacked and stared out the window, muttering about coming to Denver. I joined the BGMC just after the last GALA, in 2008, which took place in Miami. Tales of GALAs past in Montreal and Tampa and even Minneapolis had been rife in recent months as chorus boys related their past adventures... and here we were, going to Denver.
Not that Denver isn’t a lovely and progressive city. It’s just that, being from New Mexico (and, before that, Wyoming), Denver had always been the regional Big City in my youth. I’d been there, and I’d done that.
Or so I thought... Denver has changed a lot in recent years (ahem, okay, decades), and while that’s to be expected it’s still kind of a shock, somehow. But what’s even more of a shock is what’s the same: The smell of the desert air, and the roaring, resounding thunder of summer storms. So far the weather has been cloudy, with a fair amount of rain; it’s hard to be put out about this though, given the wildfires that have been raging in the area over the last couple of weeks.
Once I emerged from my cocoon, I was immediately swept up in frivolity as a group of BGMC chorines invited me to join them as they dove head first into far too many "yellow lemon" cocktails. (These turned out to be vodka with soda. "They always want to put a lime wedge in," the leader of this voracious pack told me. "Even if you tell them you want a lemon wedge, they use lime, so you have to tell them very specifically that you want yellow lemon. And then they pull an attitude: ’What other color lemon is there?’ Well, honey. That’s the problem we’re having, isn’t it?"